by Stephanie

November 20, 2020

Content Warning: rape

I was 18 and had just finished my first year of college. I was in a very vulnerable place- my parents had shocked me by divorcing abruptly before I left home to begin college. They both moved out of state shortly after so I stayed in my college town to keep my in state tuition. I got a job at a bookstore and moved in with friends to a house near campus. We threw wild parties pretty often.

My manager at the bookstore was in his mid thirties. He liked cool music and books. He was quiet and shy. I invited everyone at the store to a party at my house, including this manager, though I figured he wouldn’t show up, being that it was a party thrown and attended by teenagers.

But he did show up, and I was already blacked out. I remember laying in the grass with the spins, and looking up to see him staring down at me. I don’t remember the rest of the night at all, but in the morning, I woke up and he was in my bed. We were both naked. He left and I saw him later that day at work. Pieces of the night kind of surfaced over the next few days. I could remember him on top of me. I remembered him crying after he was done.

Because he was kind to me in general, and because I didn’t remember struggling, I told myself that I was ok with what happened.

Four weeks later, my breasts and nipples were swollen and painful to the touch. I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test. I had actually been hanging out with the manager occasionally. I don’t know why, maybe because the more I leaned into the idea of actually liking him, the more it seemed like I hadn’t been raped.

I took my positive test to his house, and told him I wanted an abortion. It was the only option I considered.  From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew it was what I wanted. He agreed to pay for it, and a few weeks later I was at a clinic an hour from my college town.

The women running that clinic in Knoxville were incredible. I felt cared for, safe, and supported. They were thorough in the screening, and in explaining to me the procedure and aftercare. I had a personal advocate who was with me for my entire appointment and she literally held my hand through it.

I felt confident in my choice but I was still scared. I had a surgical abortion. It was uncomfortable, but not unlike a typical visit to the gynecologist in many ways. It was over quickly and after an hour in the recovery room, I was on my way back home.

The manager and I continued to hang out. Looking back I cannot understand my decision to keep him in my life. I also cannot understand why a person in his mid thirties could do what he did to an 18 year old girl. Fifteen years later, I am still younger now than he was then. The idea of having sex with a drunk 18 year old makes me sick to my stomach.

It took me years to be able to acknowledge that I was raped. But never for a second have I ever regretted my decision to have an abortion. In many ways, it was the thing that kept me going. The gratitude I feel for the women at the clinic and the freedom I had to make my choice drives me to this day. I could have been tied for my entire life to my rapist. But I got to finish college, I got to move away from my college town and start my life in a big city. I have my dream job.

I’m proud of my decision to have an abortion, it saved my life.


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